Detailed Timeline of European History

 Detailed Timeline of
European History

Napoleonic Wars (1789-1816)

<< Pre-World War I

World War I (1914-19)

Build-Up to World War I
– 1914)

Nationalism in Europe, Power Race, Precursors to WWI

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Pre-World War Europe

Austria Gains Serbia
An uprising
liberates Serbs from the Ottoman Empire in 1817, freeing most of Serbia,
except Belgrade. It then became a principality within the Austrian

Canada (1818):
UK and USA agree to split NW USA along the 49th parallel, creating the
modern USA/Canada border.

Greek War of Independence – Greece
Gains Independence from Ottoman Empire (1821-29):

Greek Orthodox Bishop proclaims Greek independence from the Ottoman
Empire in 1821. Revolts are organized with the help of western powers.
Independence was ceded by the Ottomans in 1829. 

(Timeline Continued Below)

Brazil Wins Independence from Portugal
After Portuguese government
returns to Portugal, Brazil claims independence. After some fighting,
Portugal cedes in 1825.

GreeceSpanish Empire Loses American Mainland
Possessions (by 1825):
In 1820, Spain
cedes Florida to the USA, in exchange for recognition of Spanish
possession of the southwest section of modern USA, which it would lose
to Mexico at the end of the Mexican War of Independence just a year
later, in 1821. The remainder of its Central and South American colonies
team up to gain independence from Spain by 1825, forever ending Spain’s
presence on the American mainland.

Break Up of The United Kingdom of the
Netherlands (1830):
Unsatisfied with
Dutch rule, Belgium declares independence from the Netherlands in 1830.
The Belgian War of Independence ends in their favor in 1839. Luxembourg
also gains independence by extension. The French speaking portion of
Luxembourg would join the Belgian revolution, being annexed into Belgium
upon gaining independence, causing Luxembourg to lose more than half its

France Invades Its Colony of Algeria
France invades rebellious North
African colony in part to distract from political scandal and turbulence
at home.

Russia crushes Polish independence
movement (1830).

Failed Italian Revolutions
Italian revolutionary
movements crushed by Austrian army. – The World’s Largest Maps Store!

Civil War in Spain
a.k.a. The First Carlist War
in Spain. Liberals win, undermining strength of the elite and the
Catholic Church. Results in the end of the Spanish Inquisition, where
the Spanish monarchy forced Catholism on all of its constituents,
through the threat of death, torture or exile. Rule after the civil war
would remain instable.

Slavery Abolished in British Empire
UK illegalizes the slave trade
throughout its empire, bringing its dominance of the sugar cane industry
(by its Caribbean colonies) to an end.

Abolition of Slavery in Spanish Empire
Spain illegalizes the slave
trade in all its colonies.

First Anglo-Afghan War
By now, the UK is completely in
control of India after series of wars, and looking to extend control
northward into Afghanistan. The Opium Wars against China also begin,
where the UK forcibly prevents the Chinese from illegalizing or
otherwise inhibiting the opium trade into their lands.

Great Irish Famine
Approximately one million died,
and another one million emigrated out of Ireland, many to the USA.
Resulted in a population decline of 20-25%, which would permanently
affect Ireland demographics. Worsened by UK policy to still permit
exports of food, while not subsidizing foods to enable the poor to
afford to feed themselves.

Slavery Abolished in French Empire
France abolishes slavery in its
empire. Overthrows monarch, resulting in short-lived republic, before a
new monarchy was reinstalled in 1852.

Netherlands Constitutional Monarchy
Netherlands introduces
parliament and reduces monarchist powers to become more democratic.

Crimean War: Coalition vs Russia
France, UK and Ottomans
declare war on Russia, over controversy concerning protectorate of
Christians in Ottoman Empire. France and Russia both claimed to be the
protectors of Christians in the Holy Land, with France asserting Roman
Catholic authority, and Russia asserting Eastern Orthodoxy authority.
Russia temporarily lost naval bases in Black Sea upon its defeat, which
were returned shortly thereafter.

Indian Rebellion Against United Kingdom
Rule (1857):
A massive uprising forces
the UK to reform its rule in India. Resulted in the end of the British
East India Company, transferring governence to the British government.
Serves as the first step toward Indian independence (achieved in 1947),
as the British and Indians developed a distrust for one another.

Romania Formed
Moldavia and Wallachia combine to form Romania, while
remaining a client to the Ottoman Empire.

French Assistance in Italian
Independence and Territorial Gain (1859):

France comes to the aid of the Italian revolutionaries. France’s support
helps the Italians defeat the Austrians in gaining independence. In
return, Italy cedes Savoy and Nice to France, finalizing the SE corner
of France’s modern borders.

Kingdom of Sardinia – Home Base for
Italian Revolution (1859):
As only
sovereign Italian state before unification, served as HQ for initial
independent government.

Northern Italy conquered by Italian
revolutionaries from Austria (1860).

Southern Italy conquered by Italian
revolutionaries from Spain (1860).

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Independence of Italy
In Italian Wars of
Independence, the Italians drive Austria (North) and Spain (South) out
of Italy for good, leading to an independent Italy. Italian Nationalism
had been on the rise since the end of the Napoleonic Wars, as they were
weary of being subdivided under foreign rule. After initial defeats, the
Revolutionary movement finally achieved its purpose with the support of
France. The region of Savoy and Nice along the westernmost borders of
Italy was ceded to France in exchange for their aid.

Unification of Italy

Note: Italian Nationalism
Italians were tired of serving as the battleground and pawns for
continental powers. Instead, they saw the virtue in unifying for peace,
security, prosperity, and leverage, as they took notice of other powers
rising as result of unification. This nationalism led to revolutionary
movements, and eventual independence. Since the collapse of the Western
Roman Empire in the 5th century, Italy had been continally fragmented
under multiple foreign masters. In the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars,
it became evident that their foreign rulers could not adequately protect
them. Italians also took notice that foreign masters managed to keep
Italy in a regressive condition, as they were often of only secondary
importance to them, causing Italy to become less developed than
neighboring nations.

Abolishment of Serfdom in Russia
Russia emancipates serfs within
its borders. A large workforce is now available to the cities, since the
nation’s majority are no longer enslaved to farmlands. Manufacturing
productivity is increased as a result. Terms of emancipation highly
unfavorable to serfs though, resulting in widespread and severe poverty.
This leads to the eventual socialist revolution in 1917, as workers
revolt against the oppressive economic system.

Another Polish Revolt Crushed by Russia
When Russia abolishes serfdom
in Poland in 1864, another revolt rises up, again crushed by Russia.
Poland placed under direct rule, instead of semi-autonomous rule. Russia
unsuccessfully attempts to bring Polish language and culture to

German Empire gainsGermany Gains Territory in Schleswig
War w/Denmark (1864):
Both the Danes
and the German Confederation had a claim to the Schleswig and Holstein
territories between them. Denmark annexed both regions, but with the
formation of German Confederation, and the heightened sense of Germanic
nationalism, this was found to be unacceptable. This prompted a German
Confederation invasion in 1864. Prussian- and Austrian-led forces easily
overwhelmed the Danes, conquering all of Schleswig and Holstein, ending
the War of Schleswig with this new territory joined to the German

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Austria-HungaryAustro-Prussian War Won by Prussia

A result of the
rivalry between Prussia and Austria to become the
dominant German state within the German Confederation. Tensions finally
led to a brief war won by Prussia.
Prussia was now the dominant force
among the German states, forming a new North German Confederation
without Austria. Austria was now on its own, politically isolated from
its fellow German states.

Venice Conquered by Italy from Austria
during Austro-Prussian War (1866):

Italy collaborates with Prussia, providing two-front war for Austria in
exchange for Venice and surrounding areas still possessed by Austria at
the time.

Formation of Austria-Hungary Empire
After its defeat to the Prussians in the Austro-Prussian War of
1866, Austria – in its weakened condition – was forced to cede to the
demands of the Hungary portion of its empire, and provide Hungary with
equal status. Hungarian nationalism had been on the rise since the
Napoleonic Wars, leading to protests. Austria compromised by
establishing a dual monarchy, rather than risk a Hungarian war of
independence which it was not prepared to wage in its weakened state.Papal
States (1870): Italian army marches on Rome, to add it to the unified
Italy. The Popes had continued to hold out, opposed to the idea of a
unified Italy, especially since it would lead to the end of their rule
of Rome. Rome was taken after a brief skirmish.

Papal States Conquered and Added to
Italy (1870):
Italian army marches on
Rome, to add it to the unified Italy. The Popes had continued to hold
out, opposed to the idea of a unified Italy, especially since it would
lead to the end of their rule of Rome. Rome was taken after a brief

France Loses Territory to Prussia in
Franco-Prussian War (1870):
between the two continental powers culminate in an armed conflict.
Several German states from the North German Confederation would join the
Prussians, helping to unite the German states into the German Empire in
1871. The Prussian/German forces were superior, and they were able to
take the territory of Alsace-Lorraine away from the French during the
brief war. Beginning of an era of an ongoing France/German rivalry that
would end after WWII, as both sides would vie for territory along their
shared border.

German Empire Established
A new, unified German state
dominated by Prussia, incorporating all German states except Austria
into a single state. In the past, the German states had always been a
loose affiliation of a multitude of duchies, principalities and
counties. The German Empire represented the first true German state,
where Germans were consolidated under centralized rule.


 German Nationalism

After a series of wars on the German homeland during the 1700s and
1800s, the Germans saw virtue in unifying for increased peace and
security, as opposed to being a battleground for continental wars. They
also observed other powers rising as result of unification, leading to
increased prosperity as well. Since ancient times, German people had
maintained a sense of common identity through their shared culture and
language, being affiliated under the Holy Roman Empire for centuries.
But the Empire had never unified all the German states under a
centralized rule. German dukes, princes and counts had always desired to
retain individual power and sovereignty. However, this fragmentation
placed the German people at a military and commercial disadvantage to
unified powers such as France and England. In the aftermath of the
Napoleonic Wars, nationalism ran high throughout Europe, as nations
desired greater economic and geopolitical leverage, while protecting
themselves against other rising powers. Therefore, it made sense for
Germany to consolidate into a unified German Empire.

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Jews in Germany
Jews in Germany are given equal rights, although
still persecuted quite heavily.

Jews in Russia
Russia is the only European nation to have
restrictive laws against the Jews. Russia’s legacy of Anti-Semitism
would later be condemned by the communist government. In 1882, many of
the Jews in Russia begin migrating to Palestine, due to heavy
prosecution, foreshadowing the modern state of Israel.

Ottoman Empire Defeated in
Russo-Turkish War (1878):
The Ottoman
Empire is defeated In the final of a series of wars with Russia over
mutual expansionist ambitions. Russian captures the Khanates of Kokand,
Bokhara and Khiva, expanding further into Central Asia. Russia seeks to
take the place of the Ottomans in the Balkan region, bringing Serbia,
Montenegro, Romania and Bulgaria under its control. However, the UK
prevents this through a show of force, intending to maintain the balance
of power by prohibiting Russia from growing any more powerful. As a
result, most of the Balkan nations gain independence.

Austria Gains Bosnia from Ottoman Empire
Austria-Hungary takes Bosnia and Herzegovina from a faltering
Ottoman Empire. Most of the Bosnians are Muslim, and prefer Ottoman
rule. Against the wishes of the Bosnians, Austria officially annexed
Bosnia in 1908. This increased hostilities, culminating with the
assassination of the heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne while he was
visiting Bosnia in 1914, which helped to trigger WWI.

Montenegro Gains Independence from
Ottoman Empire (1878):
independence along with most other Balkan nations after the Ottoman
Empire is weakened from defeat to Russia.

Bulgaria Gains Independence from
Ottoman Empire (1878):
Bulgaria also
gains independence upon the Ottoman’s defeat in the Russo-Turkish War.
Absorbs Macedonia and the northern Greek lands.

Balkans independence from Ottoman Empire

Macedonia Annexed by Bulgaria
Bulgaria and Macedonia
successfully revolt from Ottoman Empire, with Macedonia being absorbed
by Bulgaria.

Albania Elects to Remain Part of
Ottoman Empire (1878):
When most of the
Balkan nations gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1878,
Albania, as a primarily Muslim nation, feared persecution from
neighboring Christian nations. They appealed to the Ottoman Empire for
military protection, in exchange for remaining a semi-autonomous region
within the empire.

Note: Russo-Turkish War Effect on the
. The Ottoman
Empire is defeated In the final of a series of wars with Russia over
mutual expansionist ambitions. The devastating defeat further weakened
the Ottomans, and their ability to maintain their longstanding hold onto
the Balkans. Upon their defeat in 1878, all Balkan nations were freed of
Ottoman rule, with the exception of Albania, which voluntarily remained
under Ottoman dominion due to the Muslim connection. Russia sought to
take the place of the Ottomans in the region, bringing it under their
control. However, the UK prevented this through a show of force,
intending to strike a balance of power by prohibiting Russia from
growing any more powerful.

Romania Gains Independence from Ottoman
Empire (1881):
With weakening of
Ottoman Empire, Romania asserted independence in 1881, forming the
Kingdom of Romania.

Greece Gains Thessaly from Ottoman
Empire (1881):
A weakened Ottoman
Empire ceded Thessaly to Greece after its defeat to the Russians in the
Russo-Turkish War.

Serbia gained independence from the
Austrian Empire (1882).

United Kingdom Seizes Control of Suez
Canal in Egypt (1882):
UK assumes
control over Egypt, since it had become turbulent, and UK sought to
protect its Suez Canal investment (which opened in 1869 as a joint
venture). The Suez Canal was very important in administering to its
Asian and African possessions.

European Scramble for AfricaScramble for Africa: Post-Slavery
Exploitation of Africa.

Berlin Conference, RE: Colonization of Africa
European powers outline rules for African
colonization. European powers were seeking new territories to exploit in
order to feed their respective military and commercial machines. African
colonization was already well underway, causing encounters and
hostilities among the European powers. In the Berlin Conference, rules
are established to divide Africa in the hope of avoiding war.
Motive. During this time of heightened nationalism in the
post-Napoleonic War period, it was justifiable to exploit indigenous
peoples abroad in order to build up the state. This is partly driven by
greed, but it is also by paranoia, in order to keep pace in the
continent-wide power/arms race. The Napoleonic Wars served as a fresh
reminder of the need to remain strong relative to one’s rivals. To feed
the industrial and military-build up race, increased raw materials were
needed. Africa was a prime target, since most of the rest of the world
was well settled. Until the 19th century, most of Africa was still
unmapped and unclaimed by European powers. Europeans were familiar with
the coastal areas of Africa, many of which were colonized and fortified,
but not the interior, which therefore represented the greatest
opportunity for new resources.
Africa Vulnerability. European nations continued to hold a
military and political advantage over African peoples. Africa was still
very fragmented and decentralized, due to its tribal nature, preventing
a coordinated defensive effort. Europeans were also able to buy off key
leaders to support their cause, due to their vast wealth, and the
promise of land. By now, most European nations had abolished slavery, as
it became distasteful for the general public. But it was acceptable to
exploit native Africans in other ways. Africans were forced to work in
crop fields, mining operations and other commercial/military projects
(e.g. railroads) for extremely low wages. So a form of slavery evolved
from the more brutal slave trade which brought millions of Africans to
the Americas. Furthermore, natural boundaries between tribes and nations
were redrawn by European powers to suit their purposes. This would later
lead to widespread civil war in the post-WWII era, after most European
powers withdrew from Africa. The artificial national boundaries they
left behind resulted in tribal tensions within and across borders, as
natural tribes attempted to recombine, while national leaders attempted
to maintain their territorial integrity.
Moral Justification. As the sub-humane treatment was undeniable,
European societies continued to invent moral justifications for these
practices. The white Europeans viewed Africa as a heathen continent, and
believed that bringing civilization and Christianity to Africa more than
counteracted any “side effect”. Even though outright slavery was no
longer morally acceptable, racist theories were on the rise. First, the
biblical Curse of Ham, interpreted as justification for enslaving
dark-skinned Africans in the late 1400s, was still believed by many. In
the late 1800s, Europe was in the midst of a scientific revolution.
However, they erroneously applied this new tool to further dehumanize
Africans. For example, skull shape was studied, leading to the popular
conclusion that the brain case of the African was smaller than the
European (later proven completely false). However, these results were
generally derived from flawed methodologies (influenced by preconceived
notions and agendas) and even falsified data. Europeans were largely
influenced by such “studies”, adding further support to long-held
misconceptions about “race”.

Greece Gains Crete from Ottoman Empire
The Ottomans are finally driven
from the island of Crete, after years of insurrections following the
independence of Greece from the Ottoman Empire.

Spanish-American War
U.S. captured Puerto Rico, Cuba
and the Philippines from Spain in this brief war, ending the
longstanding Spanish possessions in America and the Pacific.
Anti-Spanish and expansionist sentiment in the U.S. led to war, and a
quick U.S. victory.

Russian Defeat in Russo-Japanese War
Russia lost this war to Japan,
diminishing its strength greatly, especially in the eastern portion of
its empire. Russian naval capacity was virtually extinguished. The
defeat comes as great shock to entire world, as it is first time that an
Asian power defeats an established European power in the modern era.
Russia’s poor performance in this war led to the Russian Revolution of
1905. Tsar Nicholas II is consequently pressured into establishing a
representative parliament (Duma), but at the last moment, he ensured
himself autocratic/veto powers over Duma, making it ineffectual in
ensuring rights of general public.

Norway Independence from Sweden
After the Napoleonic Wars
(1815), Norway was joined with Sweden, ruled by the Swedish monarch. In
1905, the Personal Union between Sweden and Norway was peacefully
dissolved, after Norwegian dissatisfaction with the union came to a
boiling point. Instead of engaging in a war to maintain Norway, Sweden
accommodated its desire for independence.

Portuguese Civil War
Portuguese revolutionaries
overthrow monarch, leading to civil strife for the next 16 years as they
attempt to install a democratic, republican government. The inability to
create a stable government would eventually lead to a dictatorship.

Italy Conquers Libya
Italy conquered Libya from
Ottoman Empire (Italo-Turkish War), as it was looking for opportunities
to establish a colonial empire like other European powers, hoping to
recreate Italian-based Roman Empire. First use of an airplane as a
weapon in warfare, as Italy drops bombs on Turkish forces.

First Balkan War – Ottoman Empire Loses
More Territory (1912-13):
The Slavic
Balkan nations, aware of the weakened condition of the Ottoman Empire,
initiate war to gain more Balkan lands from the Ottomans. The Balkan
League (Serbia, Montenegro, Greece and Bulgaria) quickly achieved
victory. The Ottoman Empire was driven completely out of Europe. But
they could not agree on how to allocate the spoils of victory among
themselves (especially Macedonia), leading to the Second Balkan War.

Albania Becomes Independent from
Ottoman Empire (1912):
When the
Ottomans were further weakened due to their defeat in the Balkan Wars in
1912, Albania declared independence

Balkan WarsSecond Balkan War – Bulgaria Loses More
Territory (1913):
Bulgaria was least
satisfied with its gains from the First Balkan War, as it faced the
greatest loss and sacrifice, since it was closest in proximity to the
Ottoman Empire. However, Bulgaria was also the most weakened, and the
other nations in the Balkan League were not willing to cede to its
demands, sparking the second war. Bulgaria was pitted against Serbia,
Greece and Montenegro, with Romania and the Ottoman Empire also joining
against Bulgaria after the start of the war. Fighting on all fronts,
Bulgaria was soon forced to sue for peace, retaining some of its gains
from the First War, but losing its SE corner back to the Ottomans.
Romania recaptured some territory along its border with Bulgaria lost
during the first war. Serbia gained most of the hotly-disputed Macedonia
region, and Greece took a large part of Bulgaria’s SW region.

Macedonia Taken by Serbia from Bulgaria
Disputed between Serbia and
Bulgaria after the First Balkan War, taken by Serbia in the Second
Balkan War.

Romania Regains Border Lands from
Bulgaria (1913):
Bulgaria takes land
from Romania along shared border in First War, but taken back by Romania
in Second War.

Ottoman Regains Europe-Side Territory
from Bulgaria (1913):
Ottoman’s last
holdings on the European continent, a small amount of territory located
on the European side of the Turkish Straits, is taken by Bulgaria in
First War, but regained by the Ottomans in the Second War.

Greece Gains Territory from Bulgaria
A large swath of land
comprising modern northern Greence was disputed between Greece and
Bulgaria after the First War, and taken by Greece in the Second War.

Note: Balkan Wars – Predecessor to
. The Balkan Wars
set the stage for WWI, which would commence one year later.
Austria-Hungary was alarmed by an assertive Serbia, which was now an
ally with their enemy Russia. The Ottoman Empire would also be prepared
to mobilize in cooperation with Germany and Austria-Hungary, in hopes of
regaining its lost territory in the Balkans. This would also lead
Bulgaria to join the Ottomans, as distasteful as it was, in order to
also regain lost territories from its Balkan neighbors.

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Further Understanding of the Pre-World
War Era

French Geopolitical Note: France is
still a powerful force, despite its complete and utter defeat to end the
Napoleonic Wars in 1815. This illustrates how strong France’s
geopolitical position is, based on its central location, access to
ports, and large, cohesive populace, bound by shared national identity.

German Aggressiveness Fosters Distrust
Among Other European Powers:
Upon taking power in 1890 as German
Emperor, William II set out to compete with UK to become the world’s
dominant super power. Germany had already become highly industrialized,
overtaking UK as Europe’s leader in manufacturing (second only to US in
world). Germany also desired its own colonial empire. Most of Africa and
the Pacific was already colonized by other European powers, so Germany
was left to lay claim to lands still available, most less desirable or
more difficult to control. With this being the case, Germany was
compelled to be more brutal and aggressive, including genocidal actions
and slavery in Africa. Within Europe, Germany desired expansion to the
east, at the expense of Russia, in order to establish greater
continental dominance. In which case, former allies such as the UK and
Russia became distrustful of the German Empire, forming alliances
against it, setting the stage for WWI.

Seeds of German Racism:

National Agenda and Ethnic Pride
Fosters Increased Racism in Germany.
In the colonization of Africa
in the late 1800s through WWI, the United Kingdom, France, and others
did not impose outright slavery in the strict sense of the term. The
Germans, on the other hand, did enforce slave labor in Africa. Germany
had never possessed an overseas empire like its chief rival European
powers, so it was particularly enthusiastic in its expansionism
ambitions. It was least of all concerned about the welfare of its new
subjects, even inflicting genocide upon natives in its South-West Africa
colony, in order to clear land for its own settlers. Germany was trying
to catch up from behind so to speak, since it was a new global power, so
human rights was further down the priority list with Germany than with
other European powers. This may explain why the Germans embraced racist
scientific/theological theories with greater zeal than most Europeans,
and why they were more brutal in their treatment of black Africans, even
well before the Nazi party and its extremist-racial policies.
Aryan Race Theory Born.
By the late 1800s, a far-right organization
by the name of Alldeutscher Verband was established to promote
pro-German policies (unifying Germans from across the continent), and to
preserve the German racial purity. This group viewed other races
(including Jews) as sub-human, buying into the theory that different
races came from different seeds with no common ancestry. They asserted
that just as a human was different from an ape, a white European was
different from a black African. This gave birth to the Aryan Race
theory, claiming that white Europeans descended from a superior seed of
blonde/blue-eyed ancestors originating in modern Germany (Nordics).
Those that migrated south were claimed to have mixed with the inferior
Semites (Jews, Arabs), developing darker features, such as Italians and
Greeks. They were still superior to Semites, but not as superior as
Nordics. Most Europeans believed this by the end of the 19th century,
including scientists (proving they were more swayed by personal-held
beliefs than scientific reasoning), while the minority of scientists
were critical of the theory. The Aryan Race theory especially took root
in Germany, since it was the supposed homeland to the superior Aryan
race, therefore they could argue that they were the most pure of the
most advanced race, causing them to be more emotionally-vested in the
theory. Hitler was strongly influenced by Alldeutscher Verband, which
directly inspired his book “Mien Kampf”. Such theories endorsed the idea
that white Europeans should not mix with other races, to avoid dilution
and regression of the superior race. Hitler would later take this a leap
farther by asserting that other seeds (Jews in particular) should be
exterminated, to avoid corruption of the Aryan race. These ideas found
favor with the Germans (although extermination to a lesser extent) since
racial supremacy had supported their national agenda and ethnic pride
for decades, rooting back to the 1800s.
Geopolitical Factors in German Racism.
It can be argued that
geopolitical factors created such an environment. Since the Germans were
in a less vulnerable position than many other European nations, they had
less impetus to consolidate, resulting in a decentralized Holy Roman
Empire which lasted centuries. Since rivals such as England, France and
Spain were more compelled to consolidate, they serendipitiously became
better-equipped to project their power abroad, while the Germans were
more inwardly-focused. However, the Germans were finally compelled to
consolidate after being overrun by France during the Napoleonic Wars,
resulting in a national desire and capability to expand overseas. In the
aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, nationalism escalated rapidly, as
Germans saw their rival European powers conquering the world, while they
struggled to maintain unity and sovereignty. When they did finally unify
under Prussia in 1870, they were especially driven to gain resources in
order to catch up. With all of these factors at play, German national
pride was palpable, and their aura of racial superiority unmatched. As a
result, they viewed the natives of their conquered African lands as
nothing more than a pest problem, enslaving or destroying them as was
expedient in achieving national purposes. After their defeat in WWI,
German pride was wounded, but rebounded with ferocity after hitting an
economic, psychological and military low point. Again, racist policies
supported the German national agenda and pride in the face of great
opposition and adversity, giving rise to the Nazi party which would rise
to power. This time, the European/German Jews were the target of German
aggression, as they no longer possessed African colonies, and their
challenges were primarily directed at their homeland and their near
abroad. As was the case in Africa decades earlier, Nazi Germany was
predisposed to adhere to a racist ideology, perceiving the Jews to be
part of their geopolitical and societal struggles. Therefore, Germans
were prepared to deal with perceived Jewish issue with cold and
heartless calculation.


UK-German Relations: The UK and
Prussia (the dominant state and driving force of a consolidated Germany)
had been traditional allies. Both were Protestant and both had a commone
interest in keeping France in check. As Germany became a great power, it
challenged the UK for dominance in Europe, at sea, in Africa, and in
international commerce, as it exceeded the UK’s industrial output by the
late 1800s. The race for dominance and control throughout the world
between the UK and Germany would help lead to World War I, and push UK
into an alliance with France.

The Rise of Russian Communism:
Karl Marx. British and French thinkers came up with the general
concept of socialism in the mid-1800s, calling for community-controlled
wealth and property, administered by rulers through pragmatic reasoning,
without religious influence. Religion and capitalism were viewed as
harmful to society, resulting in inequality and the exploitation of the
masses. This movement would influence Karl Marx, a Prussian (German)
Jew. Marx wrote the book titled “Communist Manifesto” (1848), which
advocated a system without classes and privately-owned property. Marxism
was essentially a specific type of socialism which defined political
characteristics to the general idea of socialism. For example, socialism
could theoretically exist within the framework of any political entity,
from a cohesive state to an anarchist setting. Marxism strived for the
elimination of political borders. Marxism also called for an end to
religious authority and influence, while the general concept of
socialism was independent of theological impact.
Communism’s Appeal in Russia. The seeds of future Russian
Communisms were sown with the abolition of serfdom in 1861. Serfdom is a
form of slavery where peasants are tied to a piece of farmland. They are
allowed to use the land to provide for themselves and their family, but
are forced to succumb to the will of their master in all things,
including military service whenever needed. The abolition of serfdom
resulted in a mass exodus from the agricultural areas to the cities,
where the new working class found employment in factories as part of
Russia’s industrial revolution. However, they had no leverage as a large
collection of individuals and were easily exploited, working for
miniscule wages. The consequential poverty epidemic made the general
public very open to the idea of communism. After the loss to Japan in
the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, and the sorry state of the Russian
Empire, the conditions were ripe for a fundamental change.
Lenin. After Marx’s death, Lenin was strongly influenced by
“Communist Manifesto”. Having never met Marx, he based the platform of
his Bolshavek party (later known as the Communist Party) upon its
principles. Marx had predicted that communism would first take root in
England and France, spreading throughout the rest of the world from
there. However, he did intimate that Russia might be more ready to
embrace communism, since it had not been democratized like the west.
Lenin took this mission upon himself, and sought to carry it out once in
power via the Communist Revolution in 1917. In Marxism, communism was a
stateless ideal. Lenin believed that it would be embraced by the working
class majority throughout the entire world after taking root in Russia.
However, communist revolts that took place throughout the rest of Europe
after WWI were successfully defused by incumbent powers.
Stalinism. Upon the death of Lenin in 1925, Stalin outmaneuvered fellow
Lenin disciple Trotsky to inherit the reigns of the Soviet Union.
Trotsky sought to continue Lenin’s efforts of aggressively establishing
Communism throughout all the world, since communism was inherently
stateless, and was not intended to exist within the framework of the
traditional notion of a “nation”. Stalin was more practical, learning
from the resounding defeat of communism in other parts of Europe. He
instead espoused the concept of focusing on strengthening the Soviet
Union, under Communist ideals, while simply supporting communist
revolutions whenever and wherever they arose. Stalin’s ideology proved
more widely accepted, and became the “M.O.” of the Soviet Union from
that point forward.


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